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I Saw Them Die: Diary and Recollections of Shirley Millard Paperback – March 21, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

A volunteer nurse in World War I France tells about her true-life experiences and often reveals more about herself and the incongruities of war than she realizes.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 100 pages
  • Publisher: Quid Pro, LLC (March 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610270231
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610270236
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,613,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Very interesting take on a young woman's experiences as a WWI nurse.
Kindle Customer
Or rather, her clear prose brilliantly paints the stark realities of the Great War in a way that no textbook written after the fact could begin to do.
Kathryn Atwood
I totally agree with Kathryn Atwood's five star review of this excellent book.
Griffin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kathryn Atwood on March 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
Shirley Millard was an untrained but determinedly quick-learning American girl who traveled to France in the spring of 1918 in order to nurse the war wounded. She was also a brilliant diarist. Or rather, her clear prose brilliantly paints the stark realities of the Great War in a way that no textbook written after the fact could begin to do.

Millard stumbled upon her war diary 15 years after the Armistice and immediately decided to have it published after implementing it with additional detail. Her writing had only improved within that time frame and she had apparently forgotten little as all that she relates in the recollection sections seems so startlingly immediate that it brings one as through a time machine, face-to face with all the mangled horror that was the Great War.

From her initial desire to go overseas - "the lilt of "Tipperary," "Madelon," and "Roses of Picardy" heated my enthusiasm to a fever pitch" - to first hearing news of the Armistice while working in a "death ward" - "There is no armistice for Charley or for any of the others in that ward" - Millard not only clearly describes medical horrors but also reveals the philosophical transformation that was shared by so many of her generation and which became foundational for the American pacifism that was prevalent prior to Pearl Harbor.

Speaking of Americans, her description of the US wounded reminded me distinctly of Muriel Engelman's descriptions (found in her memoir "Mission Accomplished: Stop the Clock.") of the WWII G.I.s who she nursed during the Battle of the Bulge. Ms. Millard has this to say about her fellow Americans: "I hate to see them pouring in [to the hospital], yet I am proud of them. Such gallantry, such nerve, such pluck! Even the French nurses have remarked about it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Griffin on January 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I totally agree with Kathryn Atwood's five star review of this excellent book. I want to emphasize that it isn't all gut wrenchingly horrific in the telling, since some might avoid it if they think it would be too bloody and grim a slog. Yes, Shirley Millard's work as a volunteer wartime nurse was bloody indeed. But as Atwood points out, her story is filled with inspiring moments and characters, in addition to her own steady heroism under intense pressures including bombings of her field hospital. This wartime diary-based book was written in the looming shadow of WWII, motivated by Millard's fears for her son as a likely conscripted combatant in another war, which makes it even more poignant. I have known several nurses and other selfless medical servers, so I was immediately attracted to an original edition of this book I happened to come across in a used bookstore. I now also have a copy of this new edition, which I hope will attract a wider audience for this classic wartime tale of almost a century ago which still strongly resonates into the present day. As a writer, I appreciate the clarity of her narrative, coming to us straight from the heart of her experience.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a rare perspective on the first world war. I have never run into anything like it before. Exactly as the title says, it is the diary of Millard, with reflections added at a later date (somewhere before WWII?). It helped me gain a better understanding of what the war was like from the perspective of someone who was so close to the front lines, yet just a step removed. It is not just about who wins or loses, but the real human experience- doctors she does or doesn't like, the attitudes of German POWs etc.
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